Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

from the desk of Meenakshi Prabhune

The murder of George Floyd has reawakened the nation to speak up against police brutality targeting African Americans. While there have been nationwide protests in the last two weeks to raise awareness and concerns about the racism in America, “What can I do to help in the long run?” is perhaps the most common question I have heard in discussions. This thorough Anti-Racism Resources guide is a great starter with compilation of resources around where to donate, what petitions exist, and what to read for further delving into these issues.

Here are some ideas that I would like to emphasize:

Speak up: “See something say something” is not just for the airport. If you witness injustice, do speak up; it can make a huge difference. One such strong example from two weeks back is the Central Park incident involving Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper (not related). Amy was walking her dog without leash in the part of a park that mandates owners to leash their dogs. She was asked by Christian Cooper, a Black man who was enjoying bird watching, to leash her dog (as per the rules). As Amy refused, Christian started filming her to record the incident and captured on video an angry Amy Cooper calling 911 spec that an “African-American” man was threatening her and her dog. Calling police on a Black guy, despite knowing that could gravely endanger his well-being and life, for something as minor as a bruised ego is an appalling act. The reason I bring up this incident is because this video blew up on Twitter and people rallied strongly behind Christian Cooper. Several supporters reached out to Amy Cooper’s employers, resulting in her losing her job (and her dog) within a day. That is the power of speaking up.

Amplify Black voices: In response to this incident, last week was announced as Black Birders Week. According to its Wikipedia page, “Black Birders Week is a series of online events to celebrate black scientists, scholars, and naturalists and to increase the visibility of black birders, who face unique challenges and dangers when engaging in outdoor activities”.

Other hashtags, such as #BlackinSTEM, #BlackinNature, and #BlackAFinSTEM, to name a few, were also trending on Twitter last week. This was a great way to promote someone else rather than your own work on social media and brought many Black scientists to the forefront. Making a systemic difference by helping early on the process will ensure that companies and institutions get enough candidates to live up to their “diversity matters” claims.

Lastly, my event pick of the week:

Event: Real Talk: Racism and Climate – Livestream

Where: Thursday, 06/11/20, 02:00 PM – 03:00 PM

Stay safe and curious,

Meenakshi Prabhune (a.k.a Minu)
Science Journalist and Writer

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